GAME 7 GUNSLINGERS
Minutes after punching San Mig Coffee’s ticket to the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup Finals, Coffee Mixers coach Tim Cone was still in a state of disbelief.
“Too much James and PJ tonight. I’ve never seen such a shooting performance by two guys ever before in my life, especially in a Game 7. It’s just phenomenal,” he said, as his star guards combined for 58 of San Mig’s 110 points as they walloped Barangay Ginebra, 110-87, last Wednesday.
The San Mig win now sets the record as the most lopsided Game 7 victory by a margin of 23 points. The previous record was also held by the Purefoods franchise as they lost two Game 7 encounters by 19 markers: 115-96 against Presto Tivoli in 1990; and against San Miguel in 1992, 86-105.
“I mean, shooting like that, for sure, nobody can beat us,” Cone said. “It’s not my coaching. It’s just great shooting from the guys.”
James Yap, the two-time league MVP, fired on all cylinders in the game, as he had a masterful 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc to lead the Coffee Mixers with 30 points, 24 of which already scored in the first half.
“Yung unang bato, di ba pumasok? Tapos yung pangalawang bato, pumasok uli. Kumpiyansa lang. Nagkakataon na nali-libre pa ako sa three-points, at swerte na pumapasok,” he said.
He said he felt nothing different in the game and bared that the elbow injury he nursed all season long continued to nag him, but with the importance of the game laying above their heads, he can’t let the pain get the better of him.
“Pagdating sa ganitong sitwasyon, ilaro mo na lang hanggang kaya mo. Basta’t may mga libre, tira lang. Kahit miss pa ‘yan, basta libre, itira,” he said.
If Yap fired the Coffee Mixers ahead early, Peter June Simon got the job done as he had 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter on 11-of-15 shooting from the field.
“Ang sinabi lang sa amin ni coach, swerte kami na na-experience na namin yung Game 7. Talagang pag Game 7, bigay nyo lang lahat ng makakaya nyo. Maswerte kaming naranasan na namin yun kaya di kami masyadong nag-panic,” Simon said, crediting their past Game 7 brushes in stabilizing the nerve-wracking game, which saw the gate attendance record broken with 24,883 viewers.
Turning back to his shooting, the heady guard said, “Nakakuha lang ako ng rhythm kasi yung una kong tira, pumasok agad. Maliit yung bumantay sa akin, and tinake advantage ko lang opportunity.”
Simon made mincemeat of his defenders in the payoff period, posting up smaller Ginebra guards like Jayjay Helterbrand, LA Tenorio, and even Mark Caguioa, all of which could no longer keep the Scoring Apostle from doing what he does best – to score.
But with the challenge of Ginebra already out of their way, the Coffee Mixers shift their focus on the bigger task at hand, a Finals date with Rain or Shine.
“We have to think that yesterday ended last night. And we have to think about coach Yeng (Guiao) and his guys now,” Cone said. (RL)
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